ALL IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD
The 29th (and greatest) U.S. President, Warren Gamaliel Harding, was a renowned gambler, golfer and lover of life. As such, his sage wagering advice and stories of criminal bravado are brought here through the medieval art of necromancy. Seeing as President Harding ushered us into economic success unheard of in human history (before being tragically assassinated by his jealous wife — thus tanking the economy), his words might as well be chiseled into stone tablets. (All views and opinions presented should only be considered those of President Warren G. Harding.)
LAST WEEK: (3-0 overall) Stanford (+11), Minnesota (-2.5), Iowa (-15)
SEASON RECORD: (17-18-1)
THE HONEYPOT: +$5,460,000
My fiery latina lawyer slid a cinched leather sack across the reflective tabletop between us. She sighed deeply and lit up a cigarette, "Do you know how many crimes I committed to deliver this?"
The Warren G. Harding File
- Term: 3/4/1921 - 8/2/1923
- Position: 29th U.S. President
- Trade: Dope/Newspaper Peddler
- Hometown: Marion, Ohio
- School: Ohio Central College
- Rivals Ranking: 5-Star
- Quote: "Damn, I hate being sober."
I lifted the sack. It had been a few cycles of the moon, but it sure felt like $6,000,000 in unmarked bills. (The $1,000,000 spent on the parlay had went to paying off my bail.)
Hadn't this been happening in a federal supermax, I would have made this woman my concubine. Instead, I opened the sack, counted out the required number of $100,000 racks and slid them back across the table.
"There's two and a half million dollars there. Two million dollars to double the contributions of those who donated to my bail. Half a million to you, as a token of my gratitude."
I could tell the Amnesty International lawyer had never owned that much money. If only she had the mind of a criminal, she would have realized she never had to return from Las Vegas with my $7,000,000. (The thoughts of sheep and wolves, man.)
"I can't take this," she finally sputtered.
"Of course you can."
"I have no way to pay taxes on this."
"Taxes? Somebody just handed you half a million in cash and your first thought is taxes!?" I was incredulous.
I stood up as a way to harness the pulsating rage inside of me. "I thought my bail was paid. Why am I still in this box?"
"A million dollar bail, paid in cash, will take a while to process," the lawyer took a drag on her Marlboro 27. "By the way, your passport has been revoked."
I scoffed. As if I'd leave this country in a way tracked by a passport. "This whole thing smacks of disrespect."
She wouldn't understand. How could anyone? A million dollars in bail given the litany of crimes and corpses I left in the streets was a miscarriage of respect. On top of the blatant disrespect, now somebody was talking about paying taxes.
It was more than I could take.
"Larry Hoover," I grunted. "Show yourself."
The steel door slide open, and Larry sauntered in with a toothpick between his teeth. He swayed with the swagger only a man serving six consecutive life sentences can have. Behind him was a mountain of a man, a steroid mutant brother with a keen eye for human pain and more-than-likely from the same cocaine-flooded Atlanta streets as Larry Hoover. The mountain watched the door while Hoover strolled to the far end of the interrogation cell and leaned up against the wall. He was always ice smooth.
Last week, upon my arrival at the Alcatraz of the Rockies, I ended up stabbing the leader of the Aryan Brotherhood with a jagged shard of my lunch tray after he took issue with my rebuffing of his invitation to his white boys only club. It had earned me a lot of enemies, but it had also earned favors. This was one of them.
I turned to my lawyer and raised my hand before she could speak. "I have made clear whom I want paid?"
"You're clear on the ritual with my corpse, correct, Mr. Hoover?"
He nodded. "Any last words, friend?"
"No," I said as I closed my eyes.
I heard my fiery latina lawyer scream in terror only moments before Mr. Hoover's mountainous associate plunged a shiv into the back of my neck.
My only regret was not seeing the look on the prison guards who found my stabbed, charred corpse on top of the ashes of a pyre kindled by millions of dollars in cash. Such was the only drawback to my master plan.
The shedding of my pathetic Mortal skin would undoubtedly be blamed on the Aryan Brotherhood.
I had tired of these foolish mortals, their petty lives and their "laws." I had tired of criminals whose bravado only came from the police protection they earned by pillow-talking. I had tired of looking over my shoulder every night for the shank of a Mexican hitman sent by the Helado Cartel. I had tired of prison guards drunk on their own power while lording over their decrepit concrete fortresses. Most of all, I was tired of eating plain ham sandwiches and Raisin Brain with no spoon or milk.
It was time again to feel the Winds of Fortune blowing through my salt-and-pepper pubic thatch.
1 MIL PRESIDENTIAL POWER PARLAY
- STAKES: $1 mil to win $6 mil
- CHIRP GANG (+7.5) vs. NIU
- DEM BUCKS (-33) vs. Illinois
- SPARTYDAWGS (-7.5) vs. NEB
I felt the underworld breeze before I heard it and opened my eyes. The sky was blood red. The crude log raft gently rocked against the black waves sweeping across the river.
The pyre of money and the soul of a warrior was the price of admission for the raft ride across the River Styx. It looked like my check had cleared.
I balanced myself against the dark current as I rose to my feet. I was immaculately dressed. Not that I minded the prison scrubs — they were quite comfortable — rather I preferred to be dressed impeccably. It went against everyone's mental picture of a blood-thirsty, drug-addled criminal.
I examined the abyss that was the black tide below. Between waves lazily slapping into the side of the log raft, I noticed the submerged, petrified corpses of teenage girls — all reaching in vain for the breathable atmosphere of sulfuric acid of the criminal underworld.
"Ah," said the melodic voice of an unseeen man, "The cryptically beautiful victims of The Mad Hooker Butcher."
My eyes widened. "Craig James did this? I thought he only axed five hookers at SMU."
"In his rookie year, maybe," the voice countered. "Diablo Supremo, however, is fond of hookers. It is said this river is salted with his tears created by James' confessions after that fool came here looking for sympathy and refuge."
"He came to the wrong house," I agreed. Craig James had undoubtedly suffered a fate much worse than being eternally entombed in a river of black sewage.
The raft crashed into the barren shoreline of Hades' eastern wastes and interrupted the impromptu hooker memorial service. It would be a three week hike to the throne of the man who now fancied himself Diablo Supremo, and I planned to walk every step.
When I went to take that first step, however, I found my leg to be chained to the raft. "Oh hell no," I muttered.
The melodic voice had turned sour, "Your toll isn't yet paid completely, President Harding."
"You do not know what you do!" I hollered. "I will have audience with William Howard Taft."
"President Taft," the voice said, "was the cocaine boss of the Midwest before you muscled him out of the game."
My face twisted in disgust, "Billy Taft got a kingly severance package, if I recall. I even made him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as a good faith gesture. He owes me an audience."
"Then take that up with President Taft," the voice countered, "but you won't find him in this realm; there is only Diablo Supremo."
"So be it," I said. "What's the ticket run on an audience with Diablo?"
"The same as any man's or god's," the voice said. "Homage, money... a parlay." The last word hung in the air like a lifeline thrown to the marooned. I decided to grasp it; I reached into my tuxedo jacket pocket and fingered a banded stack of hundred dollar bills and tossed it onto the orange sands of the wasteland shoreline. I did it again and again. Soon, there was a small mound of hundred dollar bills that reached my kneecaps on the wasted shores.
A few seconds after the last stack landed, the million dollars went up in flames and was almost instantaneously reduced to an ash scattered in the wind.
I smirked. "I didn't expect Diablo Supremo to deal in Mortal currency."
"You came to the gates of Hell and didn't expect to find money?" The voice asked incredulously. "El Diablo Supremo says the only thing of which you have more than bravery is foolishness. He can look into your soul, y'know? He also knows why you have come here. To settle a score."
"The last score," I confessed, "but more likely a simple misunderstanding amongst old colleagues."
The iron lock clasped to my ankle disintegrated into sand that fell between the cracks between the logs of the raft.
"Let's hear a mighty parlay," the voice mocked.
I opened my mouth, but I was suddenly incapable of voice.
"—Diablo Supremo already knows what you want. In fact, this week's $1,000,000 Presidential Power Parlay is already in the blood books. Would you like to hear it? Of course you would.
"The first team you want to take is Ball State (+7.5) vs. Northern Illinois in a key MAC conference game. You love Jonathan Newsome, the former Buckeye tweeter/football player, and the last time you bet on Ball State as an underdog they trounced the University of Virginia. The Chipers of Ball State feed in the underdog role.
"The second team is Ohio State (-33) vs. Illinois. Ohio State has been a different team since halftime of the Iowa game, and the Bucks know they can't afford anything but a magnificent blow-out of a lowly Illinois team still in search for their first Big Ten win under Tim Beckman. You think Ohio State could start slow due to the start time/geographical location of this game, but you're confident the Buckeyes will be covering by half time.
"The third team is Michigan State (-6.5) at Nebraska. You're skeptical of this game, President Harding, because you're terrified of going against the brother of an admitted recreational user of cocaine, but you do love that Spartandawg defense. What was it you said when they covered for you against Notre Dame? Ah, block-knockers.
"When this parlay wilts your heart, you will see the errors in your way, President Harding. You are too much of a pragmatist to pick this fight." And with that, the voice never returned.
... I had wanted the element of surprise with igniting underworld rebellion, but that was into the wind. I would have to knock down the Devil's front door on some Old Testament shit. Something about anything easy, I remembered.
I plucked a small pebble of crystallized cocaine out of my tuxedo pant pocket and placed it under my tongue. It was an old Navajo trick I had learned to ward off thirst.
Into the desolate wastes I walk.
Do not cry for me, Earth,